It is a pleasure to be able to share with you all yet another blog today. I hope you all had an amazing week.
Last week I shared some beautiful lessons from the epic Ramayana and how we could apply them in our lives. I have always been an advocate of reflections and inner spiritual growth rather than a person of fanfare or show bottle spirituality. Thus this week I felt I share with you all some more realizations.
Just yesterday I was at a home program organized for University students and we were studying the scriptures together. I must say it was an amazing exchange and the mood in general felt very assuring especially for me. These new practitioners were spending a good deal of their time learning more about Vedic wisdom and knowledge, to be able to be part of that was inspiring for me. We spoke on various topics but one of the subject matters that lingered was a recap on the reasons why we are not attracted to the glorification of God’s holy name.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur (a renowned scholar in the Vedic tradition) has listed four major reasons why we are not attracted to the holy name of God; 1. Weakness of heart, 2. Attraction to unwanted habits 3. Illusion of Spiritual Knowledge and 4. Offenses. Even though these four main obstacles have sub-divisions, I’ll like to say they pretty much summarize any reason/excuse we may have for not wanting to or not being able to take full shelter of God’s name. The first obstacle which is weakness of heart includes; fault finding, desire for fame, attachment to things not related to God and envy. As spiritual practitioners we can testify to the difficulty that these impediments pose in our spiritual life. If we spend a good deal of our time finding faults in what others are doing instead of being critical with our spiritual life then we are at a disservice to ourselves. If we engage in spiritual activities in other to be recognized and praised then we are also lacking a very basic requisite for chanting the holy name, which is being humble.
If the practitioner is not humble and doesn’t show respect to others how can he effectively chant the holy names of God? Humility isn’t just the absence of pride but the presence of real service to others. To be humble however doesn’t mean to become stupid, because often times some practitioners in the bid of trying to become “humble” become or act in ways which maybe stupid. To act in a way that is stupid is to allow others to use us for their personal agendas in the guise of being spiritual. We have to carefully guide against this.
This brings us to the third subdivision which is attachment to things that are not related to God; when a spiritual practitioner has too much affinity for material objects or matters and shows little interest in things that relate to God, then advancement is slow. When we exhibit attachment to things that do not remind us of God, it means we are purposely aligning ourselves with things that make us forget God. It is either we are trying to constantly remember God, or we are trying to forget him. Someone may ask at this point, that it is not so easy to draw a line, and that there has to be a “grey area”. Even though we may not say it out rightly that “I want to forget God”, our daily choices and activities speak differently. For example, if we are in a relationship with someone, it is expected that we try to communicate with them on a daily basis. We cannot claim to “love” someone and not keep in touch with them for weeks on end. If we love someone as we claim to, then our daily decisions should show that there is a conscious effort to bring that person into our lives more, or to make them have a significant place in our lives. Similarly, if our daily activities are connected to things we do or like, and these things do not remind us of God or increase our attachment for Him, then we are consciously choosing otherwise. Action speaks louder than words, so merely saying we love God is not a yardstick to measure our sincerity. We have to walk the talk. Thus when we place a lot of attachment to things that are not related to God that is; his name, form, quality and pastimes, then we are ultimately trying to forget all of these.
Last but not least is dealing with Envy. A heart that is full of envy cannot radiate love, thus how can we achieve love of God if we are incapable of loving to the fullest. We can exhibit envy towards people or towards God. In our daily life, we sometimes see that we have friends who are better than us at certain things, or even fellow spiritual practitioners who have good qualities we desire but do not currently possess. Whenever we see some good qualities we admire in someone, instead of being envious of them and trying to put them down or discredit what they do, we should rather glorify them sincerely and try to serve them. By rendering service to such people, we can also learn how to develop those good qualities and by their mercy and blessings we may also exhibit these good qualities.
Deeper than this is when we are envious of the Supreme Lord, and we may knowingly or even unknowingly express envy towards the Lord’s activities or glories. Unknowingly we may be envious of the Lord by refusing to cultivate proper understanding about his glories, or we may knowingly feel that the Lord is “exploiting us” and thus we cannot serve him or bow down to Him. Sometimes when people are new to the process of Loving devotional service to God, and they hear about the glories of God, they sometimes feel like “why does God have so much power?” As simple as it may sound, some people then try to acquire mystic powers in order to “play God”. This often times always leads to frustration and unfulfilled desires.
Till next week, when we will deliberate on the other factors, do remember to like, share and follow this blog for more.